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sylph

sylph stays simple

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Alrighty, while last challenge had its ups and downs, it wound up better than I thought it would while I was in the middle of it, so good job me.

Major project done and off my plate means I can refocus a bit, have more active brain space to think about other things and really make some progress.

 

Given all of that, I'd still like to set myself up for success, so nothing terribly crazy here.

 

Move

I'm going to keep this goal from last time. 5 days/week, either hit my 8k steps per day (harder than you'd think!) or get a workout in. Clearing my ridiculous driveway of any winter precipitation absolutely counts toward this goal.

 

Food

Full disclosure, no bullshit: my diet is mediocre. I maintain my weight fairly well most of the time, but I am far from eating optimally and am much closer to eating like a poor college student rather than an actual adult with access to excellent grocery stores, and endless internet full of recipes and a fully functional kitchen. I'm not entirely sure the form of this goal, as I've looked at this from all kinds of angles--making X new recipes over the course of a challenge, counting calories, ensuring X grams of protein per day, etc. and failed at all of them. I've never had trouble around food and no disordered patterns, just a vague general feeling that I should eat 'better' whatever that means. Maybe the right goal is actually just to either be satisfied with the way I eat, or to define what eat 'better' looks like for me. I apologize in advance for some possible extended navel gazing; I'm sure that will be way more interesting for me than for all of you.

 

Work

While my huge work project is complete (yay, again!), I do have other things I'm in the midst of that could use attention: research project, a program that I'm responsible for as part of my actual job, and a large professional service commitment which involves wrangling other people not at my institution (the joys of being a committee chair!). I don't know (again) whether there's a solid goal here, but keeping myself honest with the textbook work over the last month by reporting here went a long way to staying on track and getting everything done in time. Reporting in on these large areas of focus for the next month on an at least weekly basis should help keep me honest and moving forward over the next month, while February (the armpit of winter) rears its ugly head.

 

 

Week 1

Move

5/5--some combination of driveway clearing and actual workouts

 

Food

Some thoughts on eating mindfully, getting on the scale for a reality check and then being surprised by the insta-negativity I felt about the number.

 

Work

Committee teleconference scheduled for this week. Poster draft for mini conference due next week (waiting on collaborator input on that one).

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1 hour ago, sylph said:

Food

Full disclosure, no bullshit: my diet is mediocre. I maintain my weight fairly well most of the time, but I am far from eating optimally and am much closer to eating like a poor college student rather than an actual adult with access to excellent grocery stores, and endless internet full of recipes and a fully functional kitchen. I'm not entirely sure the form of this goal, as I've looked at this from all kinds of angles--making X new recipes over the course of a challenge, counting calories, ensuring X grams of protein per day, etc. and failed at all of them. I've never had trouble around food and no disordered patterns, just a vague general feeling that I should eat 'better' whatever that means. Maybe the right goal is actually just to either be satisfied with the way I eat, or to define what eat 'better' looks like for me. I apologize in advance for some possible extended navel gazing; I'm sure that will be way more interesting for me than for all of you.

SOUNDS LIKE A GOOD APPROACH!  Navel-gazing and all. :) 

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16 hours ago, Mad Hatter said:

Here!

Yay!

 

15 hours ago, raptron said:

SOUNDS LIKE A GOOD APPROACH!  Navel-gazing and all. :) 

Hard to get to a goal when you don't know what the finish line is, I suppose. :)

 

6 hours ago, WhiteGhost said:

Here again!

Welcome aboard!

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Pardon me while I free associate about food. Feel free to skip or ignore if you find such things boring or triggering.

Spoiler

 

In a perfect world I would eat perfectly balanced meals, freshly prepared from high quality ingredients with appropriate amounts of protein to support muscle growth while limiting fat gains. The food would be delicious and satisfying and provide excellent fuel both for working out and for maintaining good health otherwise (can't get scurvy or something, after all).

 

In reality, my food is nowhere near that. I consume many a packaged meal, processed carb and alcoholic beverage. Fruits are minimal and vegetables are far between. While I am not a Whole-30, all organic, chemicals are bad kind of person, I do have the vague sense that I should take some reasonable steps in that direction.

 

Why? I don't know. I'm reasonably healthy (I don't think I've had an actual cold this winter, though I've had periods of feeling run down, and one might finally be catching up to me this week). I have no real chronic health issues, aside from some joint niggles that have gotten more insistent as I've gotten older. At 38 I'm not exactly old, though I'm not young any more, so while diseases of old age are vaguely on my list of Future Do Not Want, there are no family histories or imminent disasters that I'm actively toiling against.

 

So why do I feel like I "should" eat better? My diet of peanut butter toast with honey; panini from the office cafeteria; an assortment of tortilla chips and salsa; cold cut sandwiches; and frozen meals seems to be serving me just fine at the moment, so where is the 'should' coming from?

 

 

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Hi there!

 

FWIW, the food navel-gazing is interesting (at least to me). Because I have a hard time landing on what is "good enough" for my food quality (something about engineer brain perpetually optimizing, maybe?).

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Well it's easy to come up with reasons why we often feel like we "should" be eating in a certain way. We're are constantly bombarded by messages of the type that paleo/keto/IE etc etc will cure every ailment in your body and in the mind, both the ones that you know about and the ones you didn't even know about. And if you eat processed food you'll cut off at least a decade of your life. Clearly.

But even if many of these claims are ridiculous or exaggerated it's easy to get stuck in the "should" thought patterns. It's also natural to be curious whether you would in fact feel better with a few optimizations like Mike says.

Or maybe it is that you simply do actually crave a little bit more nourishment from freggies.

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3 hours ago, Mike Wazowski said:

Hi there!

 

FWIW, the food navel-gazing is interesting (at least to me). Because I have a hard time landing on what is "good enough" for my food quality (something about engineer brain perpetually optimizing, maybe?).

Hi!

 

I am married to an engineer--I know all to well about optimization. ;)

 

I think I am circling around to the same question--what is 'good enough?'

 

2 hours ago, Mad Hatter said:

Well it's easy to come up with reasons why we often feel like we "should" be eating in a certain way. We're are constantly bombarded by messages of the type that paleo/keto/IE etc etc will cure every ailment in your body and in the mind, both the ones that you know about and the ones you didn't even know about. And if you eat processed food you'll cut off at least a decade of your life. Clearly.

But even if many of these claims are ridiculous or exaggerated it's easy to get stuck in the "should" thought patterns. It's also natural to be curious whether you would in fact feel better with a few optimizations like Mike says.

Or maybe it is that you simply do actually crave a little bit more nourishment from freggies.

Right? That's exactly the question I'm trying to figure out the answer to--is there some internal urge or sense that I'd benefit from eating 'better' (still don't know what that means, quite) or is it just this vague sense of guilt because I see myself as this fit, healthy person that works out (that's a whole DIFFERENT question) so I've internalized the message that healthy eating is a virtue and it's "what fit people do". If I haven't taken the time to make real dietary changes after all this time, maybe that means I don't really want it and I should let go of the nagging guilty feelings and eat how I want.

 

Spoiler

...I take that back--there was a time, 6-8 years ago now, where I took some time, ate enough protein (still not enough fruits/veg), controlled my calories and really leaned out. I was coming at things from much more of a bodybuilding standpoint at that time, and my goal was to gain a lot of muscle, drop a bunch of fat and look buff. (Why? I don't know--to prove that I could? Hubs was working on it too so I had company in the process) I did it--I was about 5 lbs lighter than I am now, but carrying considerably more muscle. It was cool at the time, but boring to maintain and I'm a small enough person that, in clothes, I never really looked like I was buff/lean and it didn't make me feel any better than I do right now (though being strong was cool) so I slacked off on the diet and the exercise, joined circus and shifted my focus. I had a few halfhearted attempts at diet shifts/fat loss which are variably chronicled in past challenges but none of them stuck. Too many 'cheat days' (though I didn't call them that) and 'I'll workout tomorrow' excuses and now I'm neither a person who can claim to eat healthfully (whatever that definition is, it's not what I currently do) nor to workout regularly (a week or two does not a habit make). Do I chase down either one of those past identities? Is it important enough to put in the work? Right now I am a person who plays a lot of video games, sits around on the couch and (still) drinks more than I'd like. I'm pretty sure this connects back to my personal/professional slump from last spring where a job offer disintegrated at the last minute and I stopped caring about a lot of things for a long time, but this particular introspection is focused on food. Related though the two things may be, the sense of 'wanting to eat better' has been around for much longer than the last 8-10 months.

 

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10 minutes ago, sylph said:

If I haven't taken the time to make real dietary changes after all this time, maybe that means I don't really want it and I should let go of the nagging guilty feelings and eat how I want.

 

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it didn't make me feel any better than I do right now (though being strong was cool)

 

Just highlighting what is sticking out to me. It sounds like you don't really associate any benefits with changing what you eat other than maybe mitigating this nebulous "should" aura around your eating habits. It might change if you make linkages between how you fuel yourself and how you feel/perform in your chosen activities, but it doesn't look like there is anything that would be directly impacted right now, right?

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Whoa, hey! A zero week workout: high rep BW lunges, DB OHP & goblet squats. Nothing terribly fancy and not super strenuous, but for now, the focus is on doing something rather than what that specific thing may be.

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4 hours ago, raptron said:

Just highlighting what is sticking out to me. It sounds like you don't really associate any benefits with changing what you eat other than maybe mitigating this nebulous "should" aura around your eating habits. It might change if you make linkages between how you fuel yourself and how you feel/perform in your chosen activities, but it doesn't look like there is anything that would be directly impacted right now, right?

Don't get me wrong--when I had it 'together', my diet was still pretty crap by any definition of 'balanced'--oatmeal, chicken breast and protein powder were the main components. But yes, right now I think the main benefit would be alleviating whatever 'not good enough' guilt I have about how I eat. And it would be a bonus in and of the fact that I don't particularly like cooking. I find it tedious 95% of the time so if I stopped feeling like it was something I should do, I could let go of some mental baggage.

 

Right now I'm not training for anything specific, just general fitness. Getting stronger would be cool for a down-the-road goal, but right now I'd just like to rebuild the habit of being a person who regularly works out at least 3x/week and isn't a complete slug on the other 4 days. So you are absolutely right--no performance goal will be impacted by my diet at the moment. No endurance race or powerlifting meet or anything like that to prepare for.

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+1 for naval gazing, especially around nutrition. If you're happy with where you are, just shove the 'shoulds' into a box and put it out on the curb for garbage pickup. A thought for you though: instead of looking at changing your food as 'fixing it', why not simply approach it as an experiment? Change around the variables, track results, and see if there are in fact any benefits/detractors from different approaches for YOU. Because that's the data set that really matters. At the end of the day, if what you're doing now works for you, that's ok!


Boring personal example:

Spoiler

 

I've always been pretty good about getting in my veg, 5/day isn't a challenge for me, and I used to not worry about eating more than that. But when I started experimenting with different nutritional protocols, I discovered a significant energy improvement (and better sleep quality) with higher protein intake - as a former vegan/vegetarian, I was always conscious of how much protein I was eating, and I would typically manage at least 1g/kg each day pretty easily. So the food journal results that told me to eat MORE protein was a big surprise - but I couldn't deny the results from my own individual experiment.

 

After that, I decided to not take anything for granted and tried variations on LOTS of different stuff. Lo and behold, I also noticed a difference in my ability to focus once I hit/exceeded a minimum 8 fruit/veg servings/day instead of 5. Now, when I'm in good form and paying attention to what I'm eating, I aim for 1g/lb of bodyweight for protein and 8-10 servings of veg/fruit a day - and I can FEEL the difference. I'm sure there are other health benefits to be had, but the actual motivation is because eating in that way improves my quality of life on a day to day basis.

 

 

For yourself, maybe just pick one or two things you'd like to experiment with at first, and keep a rough food/mood journal (only track numbers if that's something you want to do), and see what makes you feel better or worse. It could be focusing on eating an extra couple of vegetables every day, drinking 2L of water/day, eating more protein, cutting out alcohol for a month, eating fewer refined carbs, eating MORE carbs, whatever - whatever YOU want to try. Instead of worrying about 'should', just figure out what (if anything) can be tweaked to improve your sense of wellbeing.

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love navel gazing, esp love navel gazing about what food should look like.

 

18 hours ago, sylph said:

 

 

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I did it--I was about 5 lbs lighter than I am now, but carrying considerably more muscle. It was cool at the time, but boring to maintain 

 

 

^ one of the reasons why I haven't gotten full on into a lean protein style cut ever.

but then I am constantly asking myself - is this just me being stubborn? because I'm pretty good at being stubborn. I don't know.

 

But for you to consider - this too! we are so fascinated with eating clean and it's pressed on us at every turn -- but it's still really important to be moderate about it.

https://www.vogue.com/article/orthorexia-eating-disorder-digital-age

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Following! Maybe some kind of food journal (just spitballing; I have never actually done this myself) so you get a clearer picture by the end of the challenge as to what you can point to that you want to change in your diet?

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2+ hours of driveway clearing yesterday. A quarter to a half inch of ice made up of sleet mixed with freezing rain left a crispy shell on everything. Plenty of activity with the double bonus of ensuring I got in all my steps for the day.

 

Warmer today, so that's helpful.

2/5 for zero week

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On 2/5/2019 at 9:29 PM, Defining said:

+1 for naval gazing, especially around nutrition. If you're happy with where you are, just shove the 'shoulds' into a box and put it out on the curb for garbage pickup. A thought for you though: instead of looking at changing your food as 'fixing it', why not simply approach it as an experiment? Change around the variables, track results, and see if there are in fact any benefits/detractors from different approaches for YOU. Because that's the data set that really matters. At the end of the day, if what you're doing now works for you, that's ok!


Boring personal example:

  Reveal hidden contents

 

I've always been pretty good about getting in my veg, 5/day isn't a challenge for me, and I used to not worry about eating more than that. But when I started experimenting with different nutritional protocols, I discovered a significant energy improvement (and better sleep quality) with higher protein intake - as a former vegan/vegetarian, I was always conscious of how much protein I was eating, and I would typically manage at least 1g/kg each day pretty easily. So the food journal results that told me to eat MORE protein was a big surprise - but I couldn't deny the results from my own individual experiment.

 

After that, I decided to not take anything for granted and tried variations on LOTS of different stuff. Lo and behold, I also noticed a difference in my ability to focus once I hit/exceeded a minimum 8 fruit/veg servings/day instead of 5. Now, when I'm in good form and paying attention to what I'm eating, I aim for 1g/lb of bodyweight for protein and 8-10 servings of veg/fruit a day - and I can FEEL the difference. I'm sure there are other health benefits to be had, but the actual motivation is because eating in that way improves my quality of life on a day to day basis.

 

 

For yourself, maybe just pick one or two things you'd like to experiment with at first, and keep a rough food/mood journal (only track numbers if that's something you want to do), and see what makes you feel better or worse. It could be focusing on eating an extra couple of vegetables every day, drinking 2L of water/day, eating more protein, cutting out alcohol for a month, eating fewer refined carbs, eating MORE carbs, whatever - whatever YOU want to try. Instead of worrying about 'should', just figure out what (if anything) can be tweaked to improve your sense of wellbeing.

I think this could be a good next step. Right now, I'm still stuck at whether my vague guilt about the way I eat is based in reality enough for me to consciously make a change, or if I should just get over the guilt and keep eating how I'm eating until I do it because I want to, rather than thinking that I 'should.

'

23 hours ago, karinajean said:

love navel gazing, esp love navel gazing about what food should look like.

 

 

^ one of the reasons why I haven't gotten full on into a lean protein style cut ever.

but then I am constantly asking myself - is this just me being stubborn? because I'm pretty good at being stubborn. I don't know.

 

But for you to consider - this too! we are so fascinated with eating clean and it's pressed on us at every turn -- but it's still really important to be moderate about it.

https://www.vogue.com/article/orthorexia-eating-disorder-digital-age

I don't think I'm at a disordered place at the moment (thankfully) more just a niggling feeling that I should be doing better and a weird uncomfortableness when someone is trying to make conversation, talking about their plans on what they are making for dinner and my response when they ask me is "Uh, no plan. I'll probably have, like a spoonful of peanut butter at some point and maybe some chips and salsa" and then I feel like they get judge-y, (even if they don't!) because I am almost 40 years old and shouldn't I be eating like a grown up already?

 

This would probably go very differently if I had kids--I have no one to impart good eating habits upon, and no need to worry about ensuring others are getting appropriate nutrition. Hubs is a grown up and we eat very similarly--though he's much more of a grazer than a meal-eater, so we each do what works for us and that should be enough, right? It does make me feel like I'm not adulting properly, though.

 

1 hour ago, RogueLibrarian said:

Following! Maybe some kind of food journal (just spitballing; I have never actually done this myself) so you get a clearer picture by the end of the challenge as to what you can point to that you want to change in your diet?

I've tracked food/calories fairly often. There was a span (see reference to 'really lean' period above) where I tracked and monitored for about two years straight, rarely missing a day. I don't eat that differently now, I'm just more relaxed about it and don't (for example) weigh the peanut butter on my toast before eating it; breakfast is the same 95% of the time and lunch is a cycle between one of three things, usually.

 

I could get into some kind of actual journaling/feelings/assessment about what I'm eating on a day to day basis if I do get to the point where I want to make changes...

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Just now, sylph said:

I've tracked food/calories fairly often. There was a span (see reference to 'really lean' period above) where I tracked and monitored for about two years straight, rarely missing a day. I don't eat that differently now, I'm just more relaxed about it and don't (for example) weigh the peanut butter on my toast before eating it; breakfast is the same 95% of the time and lunch is a cycle between one of three things, usually.

 

Gotcha; I should have figured this was probably the case. Then your "just pay more attention and think about it" plan makes a lot of sense, and just see what comes of it this month.

 

I'm feeling much in the same boat with you on the work situation. I've got a lot of service obligations and medium-sized projects to stay on top of, and I sort of feel that it's important to do a pretty good job with it this month to set the tone (and habits) for the rest of the year.

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10 minutes ago, sylph said:

"Uh, no plan. I'll probably have, like a spoonful of peanut butter at some point and maybe some chips and salsa" and then I feel like they get judge-y, (even if they don't!) because I am almost 40 years old and shouldn't I be eating like a grown up already?

But the beauty of being a grown up is that it's YOUR CHOICE to eat chips and peanut butter straight from the jar. :D 

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19 hours ago, Mad Hatter said:

But the beauty of being a grown up is that it's YOUR CHOICE to eat chips and peanut butter straight from the jar. :D 

YOU'RE DAMN WELL RIGHT IT IS!!

 

But I will never forget the utter bafflement on my coworker's face a few months back when we were commiserating on the horrors of grocery shopping--I mentioned that we plan well enough to only have to go every other week and it's cut down on the horribleness quite well. She said "Well, what do you do for vegetables? Don't they go bad by then?" Rather than say "uh, what vegetables? I get all my greens as decoration on sandwiches from the cafeteria or incorporated into prepackaged meals" which would have been the truth, I shrugged and said "Frozen works just fine."

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2+ hours of chipping and hacking and scraping at the driveway yesterday has left me a creaky mess today. I slept like a rock, though, which was nice.

 

Tonight my most strenuous plan involves dipping into The Division 2 beta--time to get my gadgets on in an apocalyptic Washington DC! :D

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3 hours ago, WhiteGhost said:

I always eat like a grown up. Like today when I ate a whole tin of cookies for lunch, I did it very grownuply. :P

Did you put them on a plate? :lol:

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19 hours ago, sylph said:

YOU'RE DAMN WELL RIGHT IT IS!!

 

But I will never forget the utter bafflement on my coworker's face a few months back when we were commiserating on the horrors of grocery shopping--I mentioned that we plan well enough to only have to go every other week and it's cut down on the horribleness quite well. She said "Well, what do you do for vegetables? Don't they go bad by then?" Rather than say "uh, what vegetables? I get all my greens as decoration on sandwiches from the cafeteria or incorporated into prepackaged meals" which would have been the truth, I shrugged and said "Frozen works just fine."

Heheh.

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15 hours ago, Mad Hatter said:

Did you put them on a plate? :lol:

Nope, but I ate them in normal size bites instead of stuffing them in my cakehole 2-3 at a time  ;)

 

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